According to junior Nadine Jose, being able to learn about experiences different from her own is one way to break out of the Elon bubble and gain new perspectives. That’s why Jose chose to attend the Intersect Conference when she was a freshman. Her interest in diversity and leadership has sparked since then.
After attending the conference for the first time, Jose has taken on leadership roles and is now one of three student coordinators who ran this year’s Intersect Conference on Oct. 1 and 2, along with junior Maddy Starr and sophomore Valentina Echavarria.
Chosen by student leaders, the theme for the conference is from Moments to MOVEments.
According to Jose, choosing a theme for the conference was not a simple process. She and her fellow leaders spent time thinking of ideas that students who attended would find relevant to today, but also big enough.
“We bounced around ideas and landed on from Moments to MOVEments because, in light of Stop API Hate and the ongoing Black Lives Matter movements and a variety of different things, we just thought it would be really pertinent. Elon talks about wanting to make global citizens, and one way to do that is taking things that matter on this campus and launching them into something bigger for the future.”
These students were also in charge of choosing this year’s keynote speaker — Nina Berglund, indigenous youth leader and climate activist. While Tokata Iron Eyes, member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and climate activist, was the original speaker, she now is unable to attend. According to Jose, Iron Eyes was chosen for her work with climate justice and sustainability, both of which are important to Elon.
“Oftentimes movements can fade or we don’t see how a movement like sustainability could intersect with diversity, and Tokata obviously just has a great grasp on that,” Jose said.
The Intersect Conference generally draws around 300 participants — many from other universities. This conference’s sessions included a wide range of topics such as leadership and humility, admissions, and higher education.
“Because it is a membership between Center for Leadership and CREDE, we try not to have emphasis on only one sector,” Jose said. “We really do want to talk about how leadership intersects with equity, inclusion, and diversity.”
Sylvia Muñoz, director of the Center for Racial, Ethnicity, and Diversity Education and interim assistant dean of students, said that there have been changes made to the conference this year, as most of the participants will be Elon students instead of students from other universities and many of the presentations will be done by Elon faculty.
“This year, most of the proposals are from Elon faculty and staff, although students can also present,” Muñoz said.
After the virtual Intersect Conference in 2020, the planning committee was excited to host the conference in person this year. Muñoz and Jose agree that while last year’s virtual conference attracted a large number of participants, it did not have the same engagement as the in-person conferences.
Both Jose and Muñoz said the Intersect Conference provides a space for new discussion, education and community building.
“To us, this conference is just one big learning opportunity and ability to have these tough conversations that we may want to have usually, but are not afforded the time or space or opportunities for,” Jose said. “Intersect is always just this one beautiful thing.”